The toll of the heartaches begins to catch up and demand payment. The weekend of goodbye was everything it should have been: memories, fun, shared pictures in a fantastic slide show by Luke, laughs at take-offs on game shows and a Toby Mac rap, gathering around to chat and swim, gathering around to pray. Expressing thanks from the heart. Celebrating milestones. One glimmer of hope in the midst: David did a satirical New Vision front page that roasted Kevin in a way that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe, which hasn’t happened a lot lately. It’s great that we get to KEEP him and his creative humor. But when the time finally came that could be put off no longer, when all the other team mates had said goodbye and pulled away, our families finally had to part ways. Joe was still relatively cheerful, he and Jack more inseparable in the last few days than they had been for months, Joe joking about Jack’s spine-crushing hugs. Classic Bundibugyo, Savannah left with a fever, so our final five minutes involved pricking her finger for a malaria test. Nate was worried about his little cars getting packed, and keeping close tabs on his mother’s presence. Louisa looked wilted, she is a girl with a high capacity for friendship and loyalty in spite of conflict, and I think her world rested heavily on Liana and Naomi. Watching Karen hug JD started my tears, which kept flowing as we gave our final hugs. By the time I got to Kevin I was too numb to even talk. And so they drove away (well, they came right back for a forgotten chameleon, and THEN they drove away). We discussed this week: is transition a natural part of the created world, or a symptom of its brokenness? We knew it was coming, we prepared, we entered into the process, we persevered through, but now on the other side of goodbye I find my spirit frayed.
Not a great condition to begin to face the rest of life. Today was Jack and Julia’s first day at CSB. I accompanied them down this morning, not sure of proper protocol. A moment’s pause on how strange our life is: for breakfast I cooked eggs that were one of Luke’s two graduation presents (the other was a tree seedling), here are my two youngest children starting secondary school ahead of their time, wearing clunky regulation black shoes and second hand clothes from the market, breezing through a cluster of men in camouflage armed with AK 47’s as if it was nothing (because it is nothing, just the normal night patrol of UPDF coming off duty), dodging a goat nursing its baby in the middle of the dusty road, then nervously standing with clusters of other students as they make their way into a classroom with ripped screens, dusty floors, a chalkboard painted on one wall, choosing a hard wooden bench, waiting, no teacher but some helpful upper class students instructing them on where to find benches to carry into the room. And so begins their CSB career. As we walked down to the classroom block some girls greeted Julia by name and said “don’t be afraid, we’ll watch out for you.” That was nice. But on top of everything else, it was hard to leave them there. I take comfort in the fact that Jack is an intimidating bulk of a brother body guard. But I admit the sheer grit of moving forward through life had experienced some unraveling this week.